Jewish History & Culture: Migration Stories

This first post in our new series on Jewish History and Culture looks at stories of movement and migration, including extracts from Well Worth Saving by Laurel Leff, Hitler’s Jewish Refugees by Marion Kaplan, Roads Taken by Hasia R. Diner and The Jews of Eighteenth-Century Jamaica by Stanley Mirvis.

Well Worth Saving: American Universities’ Life-and-Death Decisions on Refugees from Nazi Europe

In this harrowing account of the profoundly consequential decisions American universities made about refugee scholars from Nazi-dominated Europe, Laurel Leff rescues from obscurity scholars who were deemed “not worth saving” and tells their story.

This extract introduces Hedwig Kohn, a Jewish physics professor formerly of the University of Breslau, and her efforts to escape the Nazis.

Hitler’s Jewish Refugees: Hope and Anxiety in Portugal

In Hitler’s Jewish Refugees, award-winning historian Marion Kaplan presents an emotional history of Jewish refugees biding their time in Portugal as they attempted to flee Nazi Europe.

This extract examines Jewish refugees arriving in Portugal in three waves; before World War II, after the fall of France in June 1940 and the summer and autumn of 1942, when France started deporting Jews and Germany occupied all of France.

Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way

This book by Hasia R. Diner is the first to tell the remarkable story of the Jewish men who put packs on their backs and travelled forth, house to house, farm to farm, mining camp to mining camp, to sell their goods to peoples across the world.

This extract looks at the great Jewish migration of the nineteenth century and examines how peddling helped to facilitate it.

The Jews of Eighteenth-Century Jamaica: A Testamentary History of a Diaspora in Transition

Based on last wills and testaments composed by Jamaican Jews between 1673 and 1815, Stanley Mirvis examines the social and familial experiences of one of the most critical yet understudied groups of the Atlantic Portuguese Jewish Diaspora.

This extract provides some background information on the Jewish community in Jamaica which, during the eighteenth century, was the largest population of Jews in the English Atlantic World outside London.

Related Reading

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Not The Enemy
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“Rachel Shabi’s revealing examination of Mizrahi culture, and its dismissal by the Ashkenazi – or European – elite of Israel, is a timely reminder that the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict is as much about culture as it is about land … [Shabi’s] account of [the Mizrahi’s] vibrant culture is fascinating.”—Siona Jenkins, Financial Times

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